devoir

noun de·voir \ də-ˈvwär , ˈde-ˌ \

Definition of devoir

2 :a usually formal act of civility or respect

devoir was our Word of the Day on 10/05/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of devoir in a Sentence

  1. patient confidentiality has long been an integral part of a physician's professional devoir

How the Pronunciation of devoir Evolved

Devoir was borrowed twice, in a manner of speaking. We first borrowed it in its Anglo-French form, dever, back in the days of Middle English. As is so often the case when an adopted word becomes established in English, its pronunciation shifted to conform to English pronunciation standards. The French put the stress on the last syllable, but English speakers stressed the first. One hundred or so years later, some writers changed the English spelling to "devoir" to match the modern French. That French borrowing was actually pronounced like French (as well as English speakers could, anyway)-just as it is today.

Origin and Etymology of devoir

alteration of Middle English dever, devoir, from Anglo-French, from deveir, devoer to owe, be obliged, from Latin debēre — more at debt



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